Short Story Saturday is back! Sorry it’s taken so long to get back on track. Things have been a bit crazy the last year. After all of the ups and downs over the past year, I’m finally getting back to what I love. That includes Short Story Saturday. We’re going to continue the story of Port Shadeau, and if you haven’t read the first two entries (or just need a refresher) check out the first two parts here: Unwrapped, Leftovers. So now that we’re back and you’re all caught up, let’s get this show on the road! Here’s the newest installment of Port Shadeau, and be warned, this one is longer than the last two. I’d apologize but I’m not actually sorry. Enjoy this while you’re drinking your coffee and then have a great weekend you guys!
The following week had been long and frustrating for Ailee. Due to a scheduling conflict, she ended up working more hours than she’d planned and hadn’t had much time to spend with her new friend. Marlowe, it seemed, was having the same problems but they’d caught a few minutes here and there throughout the week. She was surprised when Marlowe appeared in the doorway to her office Friday afternoon.
“I know you’re almost done, you have plans tonight?” She asked, a smile on her face.
“No, thought I’d just relax, this week has been crazy. Melodie’s sister is in Initiate right now, so she’s been out most of the week. I get it, but I forgot to plan for that so I’ve been picking up the slack.” Ailee told her, turning in her chair to look at her friend.
“We’re going out. Meet at mine around eight, and dress cute. We’re getting drinks with Wilder and some of his work friends. It’s time you met some new people.” Marlowe told her decisively.
“I don’t know Mar, I kind of want to just relax.”
“Nope. I won’t take no for an answer. You have to come along and save me from these damn Diffusers. All they talk about is fire.” She told her, rolling her eyes. “Eight. Don’t flake, I know where you live.” She added before turning and walking away before Ailee could respond. Ailee shook her head but got back to work.
Promptly at eight, Ailee knocked on Marlowe’s door. It was pulled open by a man with medium length dark hair and kind eyes. He smiled and pulled the door open wider, inviting her inside without words.
“You must be Ailee, Marlowe told me you were coming. I’m Wilder.” He said, holding his hand out once he’d closed the door behind her.
“Nice to finally meet you. Our work schedules have been crazy, it’s amazing we haven’t met before now.” She told him, shaking his hand before following him into the apartment proper.
“I agree, seems odd. It’s been a few weeks now hasn’t it?” He asked as he leaned against the counter in the kitchen.
“Something like that, zip me up.” Marlowe said, coming into the room and turning her back to her husband. Wilder smiled at Ailee before zipping the back of Marlowe’s dress up. He placed a kiss on her shoulder as he smoothed his hands down her arms.
“You look great.” He told her with a grin as she stepped away and turned to face him.
“So do you.” She commented as she leaned forward to kiss him quickly. “Ready?” She asked, pulling away and looking over at Ailee.
“I guess. I have no idea where we’re going.” Ailee told her with a grin.
“You’ll love it. Come on.” She told her as she moved toward the door. Wilder helped her into her coat before the three of them were out the door.
It didn’t take long to walk down to the bar they were headed to. Ailee listened to Marlowe and Wilder talk the entire way and she could see why they were so perfect for one another in a matter of minutes. She envied the way he looked at his wife, she used to have that, or so she’d thought. She wanted it again.
The bar was warm when they made their way inside and toward a table that already had a few people gathered around it.
“Hey guys, this is Ailee.” Wilder motioned toward her as everyone greeted the new arrivals.
“Hi.” Ailee said shyly, slipping her coat from around her shoulders and draping it across the back of a chair.
“Ailee, meet Milo, Noah, Travis, Declan and his wife Daisy, and Max. Where’s Lexie?” He added pointing each person out in turn.
“Lex had to work late, but Kestral texted, he’ll be here soon.” Max told him with a grin before taking another drink of his beer.
“Good.” Wilder helped Marlowe hang her jacket before he turned to head to the bar. “Ailee, anything specific you want?” He asked pausing before he got too far.
“Whatever you’re getting Marlowe will be fine.” She told him with a smile. She liked Wilder. She turned to Marlowe as the rest of the table got back to conversation. It wasn’t long before they’d started talking to Daisy and the three of them were deeply entrenched in a conversation about one of their favorite authors when a beer was set down in front of Ailee. She nodded her thank you at Wilder before continuing with her point.
They were so caught up in their own conversation Ailee almost missed the arrival of the last of their party. He had sat down next to her and she probably wouldn’t have noticed him at all if he hadn’t accidentally hit her with his elbow as he settled into his chair.
“Sorry.” He said briefly, before turning back to Noah and continuing whatever he’d been saying before. Ailee just smiled slightly and turned back to her own conversation. It wasn’t until Ailee stood up to go get the next round of drinks for herself and Marlowe that she was faced with the stranger again.
She made her way toward the bar and waited for her turn with the bartender. While she waited, someone stepped up closer to her near the bar as well.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He said. She looked up at him, and smiled. It was the man who’d been sitting next to her at the table.
“Not a problem. You’re friends with Wilder right?” She asked him, keeping one eye on the bartender.
“Yeah, Kestral.” He said, holding out his hand.
“Ailee. I live next door to him and work with Marlowe.” She told him as she took her hand back.
“Right, he’s mentioned you a couple of times. So you guys finally met then?”
“Yeah.” She smiled. “I can’t believe it took so long.”
“It does seem rather ridiculous if you live next door.” Kestral smiled at her. “So what brought you to Port Shadeau?”
“My dad died and I needed a change of scenery, so I’m here.” She said with a shrug.
“I’m sorry about your dad.” He said softly, touching her elbow.
“Thanks. I try not to think about it too much, but it is what brought me here.” She shook herself visibly. “So, what brought you to Port Shadeau?”
“I grew up in New York, actually, but wanted something different. So I moved out here about six years ago. I love it here.” The bartender interrupted them then and they placed their orders before going back to their conversation. “So what do you do?” He asked her while they waited.
“I’m the manager at the coffee shop that’s located inside the Librarie. It’s new for me and I kind of love it.”
“That’s awesome. Is that what your goal is or do you want to do something else?”
“I’m not really sure. What about you? DId you always want to be a Diffuser?” She asked as they accepted their beers from the bartender and started making their way back toward the table.
“Sort of. I’m good with fire, so that kind of makes it the perfect career.”
“So are you a fire then?” She asked as he motioned to let her sit down before he did.
“No, I’m an Elentori, not an Arkane actually.” He said, a small smile on his face as he tipped his bottle to his lips.
“Oh, I didn’t mean to assume.” Ailee said quickly.
“No it’s okay, I work with mostly Arkane so it isn’t a stretch of the imagination.” He told her with a chuckle. Ailee breathed a sigh of relief. Kestral was cute and she didn’t want to offend him so early into their aquiantenship.
“But you like being a Diffuser?” She asked, steering the conversation back on track.
“Yeah, I love it.” He told her, his dimples showing as he smiled wide.
They spent the next two hours talking, and Ailee was surprised when Marlowe tapped her shoulder and told her they were going to head out. She had a knowing grin on her face and Ailee knew she’d get the third degree from her friend the next day.
“If you want to stay and finish your drink I can walk you home.” Kestral told her softly. It seemed he wasn’t any more eager than she was for the night to be over. Ailee smiled wide.
“I’d like that.” She waved at Marlowe as she followed Wilder from the bar. Looking around, it seemed that almost everyone else from their party had left as well and she couldn’t remember when that had happened. It had been a long time since she’d gotten so caught up with someone that she stopped paying attention to the world around her.
“So, we sort of changed the subject earlier and never went back to it.” Kestral started as he held her jacket out for her to slip her arms into a half hour later. “But I think it’s safe to assume you are an Arkane?” He asked, pulling his own jacket on. Ailee smiled.
“Yes I am. An air actually. My gift isn’t really useful for most things, but it works for me.”
“So what is your gift?” He asked as they made their way toward the door.
“I can infuse the air with scent, like magnify it somehow. It works great at the coffee shop, I just make the whole place smell like old books and delicious coffee and everything pretty much sells itself.” She told him with a grin, accepting the arm he held out to her as they ambled their way down the snow-covered sidewalk.
“I bet that comes in handy sometimes, though I can’t imagine it was a good survival skill.”
“Not really.” She agreed with a laugh. “Though it has its advantages.”
“So are you seeing anyone?” He asked. Ailee looked up at him then, and smiled softly at the way he was worrying his lip between his teeth like he wasn’t sure why he’d asked that question.
“No. I was before I moved, but I’m not now.” She watched as he exhaled and smiled down at her, his dimples on display once more.
“Then would I be overstepping if I asked you to dinner next week?”
“I’d love to go.” She told him, squeezing his arm where she still held it.
“You’ll have to give me your number so I can call you later in the week and we can set something up.” He told her with a smile, laying his hand over her own on his arm for a moment.
“I can do that.”
They talked the rest of the way to her apartment, and when he left her at her door, she felt like she was walking on air. For the first time since Gideon had stopped returning her calls, she felt happy. She couldn’t wait to see him again.
Well? What’d you think of this installment? Was the length daunting for a quick weekend read? I’m so excited for where this story is going, I can’t help it. It’s going to be amazing, I hope.
So that’s it for today, go enjoy the sunshine (provided you have some) and make today wonderful. If you haven’t already, sign up for the newsletter as the first one gets posted today. There’s a link at the bottom of the page, but you can also follow this link. Have an amazing day you guys!